Michael Gerson

In the seesaw Democratic primary race, Republicans generally are rooting for confusion, which means rooting for Hillary Clinton -- who now has some political momentum after last night's victories in Ohio and Texas but little realistic chance of taking a lead in delegates.

It is the Republican dream: a tenacious, buoyant, well-funded challenger to Barack Obama who is also politically doomed -- and incapable of admitting she is doomed.

So now Clinton herself is the most effective agent of the vast right-wing conspiracy -- proving just how devious and subtle that conspiracy really is.

And this is not Agent Clinton's only contribution. By raising questions about Obama's foreign policy judgment, she has identified a potent issue -- an issue she cannot fully exploit because of the liberalism of her own party.

But John McCain could. As a thought experiment, consider the foreign policy achievements of Obama's first 100 days in office.

Redeeming his inaugural pledge to "pay any price, bear any burden, fly any distance to meet with our enemies," Obama's first major international meeting is with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. National security adviser Samantha Power does her best to talk tough on human rights in preparation for the meeting. But, as Henry Kissinger once said, "When talks become their own objective, they are at the mercy of the party most prepared to break them off." Having made Iranian talks "without precondition" his major foreign policy goal, Obama is left with little leverage to extract concessions, and little choice but to move forward.

The New York Post runs a front-page picture of the Obama-Ahmadinejad handshake under the headline "Surrender Summit!" The story notes another of Obama's historic firsts: the first American president to meet with a Holocaust denier. The Israeli prime minister publicly asks, "Why is the American president meeting with a leader who calls us 'filthy bacteria' and threatens to wipe us 'off the map?'" Tens of thousands protest in Tel Aviv, carrying signs reading "Chamberlain Lives!"

America's moderate Arab allies in the region also feel betrayed, assuming that America is cutting a bilateral deal with Iran that accepts its nuclear ambitions, while leaving the Sunni powers out in the cold. The Egyptian press notes that President Obama's motorcade in Tehran passed near a street named in honor of Khaled al-Islambouli, the assassin of President Anwar Sadat.


Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson writes a twice-weekly column for The Post on issues that include politics, global health, development, religion and foreign policy. Michael Gerson is the author of the book "Heroic Conservatism" and a contributor to Newsweek magazine.
 
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